Gone Girl review

Book: Gone Girl

Author: Gillian Flynn

This book is another one that has received a considerable amount of hype over the past year or so, with a movie adaptation of the book due later this year. I’m usually very wary of  hyped up books since they are never as good as billed, but I have to say that Gone Girl had me pleasantly surprised. It was interesting premise and a well developed book, with interesting yet flawed characters.  Here is a synopsis of the book:

Who are you? What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy’s friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn’t true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren’t made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on his mobile phone. So what really did happen to Nick’s beautiful wife?

I felt that the first half of the book lagged a bit-it was good for getting into Amy and Nick’s relationship but I didn’t feel like I really got interested until part two-I reckon that some of the first half could have been cut without really losing anything essential to the storyline. Diary Amy irritated me, I preferred Amy in the second half (okay I didn’t like her because she was a psycho) but I found her more interesting than her diary counterpart-the use of unreliable narrators in this book is very well done as the truth about the characters is revealed in the second half and I didn’t guess either the true nature of Amy or the secret that Nick was hiding.

The second part of the book was better-although you hated Amy, you had to admire her for how clever her plan was (I am desperately trying not to give spoilers!) and you could see why the police were gravitating towards Nick so much-although I never believed he was guilty. I liked that the book was in both the main characters perspectives as you can see the story from both sides and what each one of the main characters thinks of the other one and you get to know each of them better. I thought Flynn’s perspective on relationships was really insightful-how every guy want to find Cool Girl but she’s really just an idea they make up in their heads. I felt that as a book it was quite original, I’ve never read anything quite like it before. The book was well written and I think Flynn captured the distinctive voices of characters, particularly Amy very well, and you could see how she came to be the way she was. Nick definitely comes across as a guy who tries very hard to get everyone else to like him but he’s not the easiest character to like, none of the characters are but I didn’t mind that because both Amy and Nick were multi dimensional, developed characters.  I found the media aspect of it quite interesting as well, how the way that people are portrayed in the media is increasingly important in court cases and how the way that you are perceived by people is everything as both the characters use media to their advantage. There were moments that were great, and moments that lagged a little all the way through the book-for instance Amy in the Ozarks could have been cut because it wasn’t particularly interesting-in the second half of the book, I actually found Nick’s chapters the more interesting of the two.  You can clearly see that Flynn has done her research which I liked-I certainly would not have been able to pull off what Amy did in the book. I liked the use of the Amazing Amy books because you can see why this woman is so psychotic-she’s been brought up believing that she is perfect and so she lashes out in jealousy at anyone who picks someone else over her. The chapters particularly in the second and third parts of the book are very short, which is effective because it keeps you reading, you have to know what happens next. The fact that Nick’s sister was called Go (short for Margo) annoyed me because Go is not a real name!

The ending ruined what was otherwise a very good story-in a crime thriller, you want to see the criminal brought to justice and this just didn’t happen here-whilst I think it was important that Amy had the last word, I felt the story kind of fizzled out and it needed a more dramatic ending than we got.  I loved the use of the treasure hunt, I thought that was really well done-it doesn’t seem important when you first read about it in Diary Amy but the way Flynn uses it later on is really clever (plus the clues are so cryptic, you really can’t work them out which makes it more believable that the only one who can work them out is Nick).

It may have been slow to start off with and had a disappointing end but overall I felt Gone Girl was a good book that is worthy of the several pages of praising paragraphs shown at the beginning of the book-the whole story is essentially a complex study of these characters and their marriage, and Flynn does such a good job of writing these characters that you really feel like you know them well by the end of the book. It’s not just a crime thriller, it really is a study of relationships and you get to see that in many different ways, it’s not just the husband and wife relationship of Nick and Amy, other relationships such as the sibling relationship between Go and Nick, the relationship between Nick and his parents, the relationship between Amy and hers and even the relationship between Nick and his in laws are explored. Despite the fact that their relationship is a mess, you can really tell how well both the of the characters know the other one. The end would have worked for a series of books but not really for a stand alone. If you can get through the first part, then this book is definitely worth a read and I think I will probably read one of Gillian Flynn’s other books now.

My rating: 4/5

The next book I will be reviewing is Insurgent (the sequel to Divergent), by Veronica Roth.